You may or may not be interested in all the economic news coming out of Europe. Every six to eight weeks there is another batch of stories about a crisis somewhere in Europe. First there is the denial. Then the leaders reluctantly meet to discuss the looming event, they insist on no more bailouts, there is some more huddling after a spate of hysterical editorials, and then at the last moment they do what they swore they wouldn’t do. Phew, the day is saved. See you again in 6-8 weeks.
But this comical patter cannot and will not continue. The Euro is over, they just haven’t been able to admit it yet. And while the collapse of the Euro will certainly have drastic negative ramifications for the worldwide economy, it will collapse none the less because it is the only way out and forward.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writing in the telegraph explains in a nutshell why. Italy was just downgraded two notches by Moodys.
Moody’s is basically saying that the drastic austerity imposed on Italy by the ECB after its late summer Putsch (switching bond purchases on and off to force Silvio Berlusconi out of power) is itself the cause of the deepening crisis.
The contractionary policy mix has been calamitous. The ECB allowed – or rather caused – the Italian M1 and M3 money supply to collapse at Great Depression rates last year by tightening monetary policy into the slump. This was one of the worst episodes of policy error of the last half-century.
Moody’s seems to go along with the “fiscal consolidation” goals imposed on the country by Berlin, Frankfurt and Brussels.
It should not do so. The demands are poisonous. Italy already has a primary budget surplus. This will rise to 3.6pc of GDP this year, and 4.9pc next year.
This is by far the “best” fiscal profile in the G7 bloc, yet it is a pyrrhic achievement. The recessionary effects are overwhelming the gains. The debt is accelerating upwards. The industrial structure of the country is being bled white.
The bottom line, fiscally Italy is in better shape than many other Euro countries, but they are being crushed by debt and the Euro. They are being forced into recession by the Euro which is lowering their credit rating and which in turn making the debt more expensive which starts the whole cycle again.
The only way out is to leave the Euro. The only way.
The idea of contemplating dangerous but ultimately life saving surgery can be pretty scary. But you know that you have to do it.